Get Newsletter

Chiefs aim to end Final drought

REACTION: History will be made as the Blues and the Chiefs clash in the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific Final at Eden Park in Auckland next Saturday, June 22.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Blues are chasing their first Super Rugby title since 2003, when they last hosted the Final, and their fourth Super Rugby title overall.

Under coach Vern Cotter the Auckland-based outfit has been undefeated on home turf in 2024, including this past Friday’s convincing 34-20 semifinal victory over the Brumbies.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs secured back-to-back Final berths with a stunning 30-19 semifinal upset of the table-topping Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

Both teams have lost in the Final to the Crusaders over the last two seasons, with the Chiefs aiming for their first Super Rugby title since 2013.

The Chiefs, inspired by flyhalf Damian McKenzie, Chiefs scored two of their three tries in the opening six minutes to take control of the semifinal in Wellington and a perfect six-from-six shots at goal from flyhalf McKenzie kept them in front.

They’ll chase their first title since winning back-to-back victories in 2012 and 2013.

ADVERTISEMENT

The top-qualifying Hurricanes were favoured to advance in front of their home supporters and stretch their winning streak at home to 10 matches.

However, they were rocked onto the back foot early on and couldn’t recover from a 7-17 half-time deficit, with McKenzie dictating play with his boot in general play as well as amassing 15 points.

Chiefs back row forward and player of the match Wallace Sititi said his side knew a strong opening was crucial.

“We started really well and I think that set us alight,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We made a few errors and let them back in the game, but we were able to fight back and get momentum again.

“We talked about heart, accuracy and effort and we can’t fault the effort out there, but the job ain’t done yet.”

(Continue below …)

‘Gutted’

The Chiefs lost fullback Shaun Stevenson to an undisclosed injury before kick-off while their All Black hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho limped off with a leg ailment midway through the first half.

The visitors were also twice reduced to 14 players, with Samipeni Finau shown a yellow card for a late collision in the first half and fellow flank Luke Jacobson sanctioned the same way for a similar offence after the break.

However, their defence largely held firm, reducing the threat of a Hurricanes attack which has terrorised defences this season.

The Chiefs raced 14-0 ahead through sweeping tries to Finau and scrum-half Cortez Ratima.

Both were converted by McKenzie, who added a penalty before the Hurricanes got a foothold in the game, crossing through flank Peter Lakai.

McKenzie’s second penalty stretched the lead to 13 points before a high-octane Hurricanes attack ended in a try to fly-half Brett Cameron.

The match swung on an intercept from 21-year-old Sititi, who stormed 60 metres downfield after an intercept, setting up a try to Daniel Rona.

A 50-metre penalty goal from McKenzie was followed by a consolation Hurricanes try to Billy Proctor.

Hurricanes captain Brad Shields said his side never found their rhythm after their slow start.

“Those two tries the Chiefs got were a bit of a shock, I suppose,” he said.

“We’re just gutted because if you look back on our season, we’re extremely proud of what we’ve achieved and put ourselves in a really good position. We just couldn’t get there, which is tough to take.”

  • Additional reporting by AFP

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

Join free

England vs France | World Rugby U20 Championship Final | Full Match Replay

Scotland vs USA | U20 Trophy Final | Full Match Replay

Boks Office | Episode 15 | Extreme Golf Special

Embedded 2024 | England | Episode 4

Before They Make It | South Africa

Before They Make It | England

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 22

Women's Six Nations winner to Paris Olympic sevens for Team GB | Ellie Kildunne | Stronger Than You Think | S3 Ep 2

Write A Comment